Mayfield seems undaunted by Oakland 'Black Hole'

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) before a game against the New Orleans Saints Sep 16.Photo: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Mayfield: "Anytime that you play on the road, it's a great opportunity to see what your team is made of."

Baker Mayfield will make his first NFL start in "The Black Hole," otherwise known as the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, when the Browns visit the Raiders on Sunday.

Playing in such a hostile environment could be intimidating for anybody, but the Browns' rookie quarterback taken with the first pick in the 2018 draft is up for the challenge.

As a quarterback for the Oklahoma Sooners, he led his team into Austin to face the Texas Longhorns, Oklahoma State to face the Cowboys, and famously into Ohio Stadium, where he tried to plant the University of Oklahoma flag at midfield after leading his team to a 31-16 victory over the Buckeyes in September of 2017.

"Anytime that you play on the road, it's a great opportunity to see what your team is made of," Mayfield said. "It's kind of your back is against the wall. It is just your team -- just the team that you bring and you travel with. It is always exciting with that.

"Then, you add in the perspective of 'The Black Hole.' It's a hostile environment. You want to see how your team's going to react. You want to see how they'll battle adversity and how you take on the challenge. I'm very excited about the opportunity."

Mayfield was named the starter on Monday, four days after leading the Browns to a 21-17 comeback rally to beat the New York Jets last Thursday. Mayfield came off the bench late in the second quarter and completed 17 of 23 passes for 201 yards after Tyrod Taylor was knocked out with a concussion. Mayfield did not throw a touchdown pass or interception.

The Browns are facing a Raiders team sure to be in a foul mood after starting the season 0-3. Quarterback Derek Carr has struggled under head coach Jon Gruden in their first year together; Carr has thrown two touchdown passes and five interceptions.

Different coaches, of course, have different philosophies. Dennis Allen was Raiders head coach when Carr was a rookie. Carr started all 16 games in 2014, and although he put up impressive numbers, throwing 21 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions, the Raiders were 3-13. Allen was fired after four games.

Browns head coach Hue Jackson went into 2018 with Taylor, in his eighth season, as the declared starter. The plan was for Mayfield to watch and learn from the sideline.

Taylor completed 17 of 40 passes for 197 yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the opener. He was 22 of 30 for 246 yards against the New Orleans Saints in the second week and a miserable 4 of 14 for 19 yards against the Jets.

The concussion made it easy for Jackson to switch quarterbacks. Even when Taylor is healthy, though, he will be the backup. The offense was sluggish when Taylor played, but was instantly energized when Mayfield took over. Jackson expects more of the same on Sunday.

"This is sooner than I thought (a change) would happen because I thought we would play much better earlier on offense," Jackson said. "We didn't. There was a stark difference how we performed when he got in there. This is an earned business, and the young man went in there and earned the right to be the starter."

Moving to Mayfield means the Browns have gone 16 seasons without a quarterback playing all 16 games. The last to do it was Tim Couch in 2002.

SERIES HISTORY: 23rd regular season meeting. Raiders lead series, 12-10. The Browns are 3-2 vs. the Raiders since 2009 -- not bad considering they haven't had a winning season since 2007. They won 34 games from 2009-2017.

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Smfrank
Smfrank

OU Texas plays at the Cotton Bowl every year. Never in Austin.